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C’est l’imagination qui a enseigné à l’homme le sens moral de la couleur, du contour, du son et du parfum. Elle a créé, au commencement du monde, l’analogie et la métaphore. Elle décompose toute la création, et, avec les matériaux amassés et disposés suivant des règles dont on ne peut trouver l’origine que dans le plus profond de l’âme, elle crée un monde nouveau, elle produit la sensation du neuf. Comme elle a créé le monde (on peut bien dire cela, je crois, même dans un sens religieux), il est juste qu’elle le gouverne.
It is imagination that has taught man the moral sense of color, of contour, of sound and of scent. It created, in the beginning of the world, analogy and metaphor. It deconstructs creation, and with materials gathered and arranged by rules whose origin is only to be found in the very depths of the soul, it creates a new world, it produces the sensation of the new. As it has created the world (this can be said, I believe, even in the religious sense), it is proper that it should govern it.
–Charles Baudelaire, Salon de 1859: Lettres à M. le Directeur de ‘La revue française,’ III: ‘La reine des facultés’ (1859) in: Œuvres complètes p. 1038 (Pléiade ed. 1961)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
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Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
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Hundreds of Viagra pills were found in the office of the South Korean president, who is a woman; North Korean leader Kim Jong-un asked his country’s scientists to develop a cure for sexual dysfunction using snake extracts, mushrooms, and sea urchins.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."